SAN FRANCISCO - To most people, it looks like a construction site. But to more than 100 people living in San Francisco, 1150 Third Street in Mission Bay will be a new beginning.
"Sixty-two units will be set aside for veteran's homelessness. These individuals who served our country should not have to worry about a place to sleep at night," said Nadia Sesay of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure.
The plan aims to bring the city of San Francisco one step closer to ending chronic homelessness for veterans. "I spent 18 years with this cheek laying on the sidewalk, sleeping in my own waste. Heavily addicted, heavily medicated," said Swords to Plowshares Vice Chair Del Seymour.
San Francisco based Swords to Plowshares is a non-profit which provides assistance to veterans in the Bay Area. In 2012, the organization partnered with the city to open Veterans Commons which provides housing to formerly homeless vets.
"To give somebody a key to their own place after they've been homeless for a long time is one of the most gratifying things I've ever done," said Swords to Plowshares Chief Operating Officer Leon Winston
"You can't get your life together in a tent. You can't get clean in a tent. You can't go to work in a tent," said Seymour.
Twenty-nine percent of homeless veterans in the nation live in California, with 700 on the streets of San Francisco, according to California's Department of Veterans Affairs. That's where both Seymour and Winston once lived. They say that the additional housing coming to Third Street will make a world of difference and will be 100 percent affordable housing.
"The people who will move into this building will probably come from other short-term supported housing so this will open up slots," said Seymour.
"You don't have the security of a home and you don't know what's going to happen next. You're totally vulnerable to the elements and everything," said Winston.
The building will also provide housing for 56 low-income families. As the groundbreaking ceremony took place, people were overjoyed, remembering that reducing homelessness in San Francisco was the dream of the city's former mayor Ed Lee, who will be honored when the building is finished.
"We are formerly dedicating this affordable housing site to our Mayor Edwin M Lee and when these buildings are completed they will bare his name on them," said Interim Mayor of San Francisco Mark Farrell. The project is slated for completion in November of next year.